Chinese official calls for greater safety for tourists

PHUKET CITY: Yao Bomin, China’s Consul-General in Songkhla, has called for the Thai government to help make travel to Phuket safer for Chinese tourists following the deaths of three Chinese nationals from accidents in Phuket earlier this year.

“The Chinese government is very concerned about the safety of Chinese tourists, especially as three have died as a result of accidents in Phuket since the beginning of the year,” Mr Yao said at an April 26 conference attended by Vice-Governor Niran Kalayanimit and Phuket Tourist Association (PTA) President Pattanapong Aikvanich.

Since January 1, one Chinese tourist has died, after returning home, from injuries sustained in a road accident in Phuket. Two others have drowned in Phuket’s waters.

“The Chinese government recognizes that the most important thing for tourism development is safety, and so we urge Chinese tour operators take very good care of their tourists. We also want the Thai government to help prevent Chinese tourists from getting into unsafe situations.

“These three accidents could be bad for Thailand’s image, so we want Chinese and Thai tour operators to pay particular attention to safety. Tourists have an obligation to take care of themselves, but a major factor is that traffic in Thailand is different from that in China. We would like the Thai government to improve traffic safety and to make travel safer.

“We also want the Thai government to produce leaflets in Chinese language explaining to tourists about any dangers that they might be exposed to in the areas they visit,” he said.

Mr Yao added, “At a recent conference of Thai and Chinese tour businesses in Bangkok, guidelines for safer practices were set down and standardized prices were set for tours to Bangkok and Phuket.

“If a company is found charging more than the agreed prices, the Chinese government will move to have the company’s operating license revoked.

“Similarly, if a tour company has an accident, the Chinese Consulate will investigate and possibly move to have the company’s license withdrawn.”

He pointed out that more and more Chinese tourists are coming to Thailand. In 2004, 780,000 Chinese tourists traveled in Thailand. Last year, despite the tsunami, 840,000 Chinese tourists visited Thailand, an increase of 7.5%.

He noted that the Tourism Authority of Thailand has set a target of 1 million Chinese tourists for 2006, and aims to attract 3 million Chinese tourists a year by 2010.

Phuket News

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